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Own It

I was lurking in a discussion about what makes a reader throw a book at the wall. The conversation was specifically about what BDSM novels get wrong.

Before I continue, I want to say that I fell down the stairs a few days ago. More accurately, I fell on the stairs. It was warm enough that I’d kicked off my slippers, but cold enough that I still had my socks on. Unlike my toddler, I do not have nice little rubber bits on my socks to keep me from sliding on bare wood. I did that classic fall thing where your feet fly straight out and you land hard on your hind end. I was on the third step from the bottom at the time, so after the first impact I went bumpety bump down to the floor. It hurt so much that I went into Lamaze breathing, something I’d forgotten to do during actual childbirth. Unlike childbirth, I couldn’t scream because I didn’t want to alarm the kid to whom I gave birth, because these days he knows that screaming = something bad happening.

I am fine, except for a spectacular bruise on my left ass cheek. It is six inches long, and three inches high. It is currently purple and blue with a red and white welt in the center. I am a little sore, not from the fall but from leaning to starboard whenever I’m sitting down and typing.

It has occurred to me, more than once in the last few days, that the people who write spanking scenes involving a dominant person putting all his/her weight into dozens of blows from a cane or a wooden paddle have never once in their life been spanked with either. I might be wrong. But I don’t think so. Roald Dahl describe being caned at his boarding school in the late 20s/early 30s, and he was pretty clear that the number of strokes would be in the single digits and mess you up for days.

At any rate, I was uniquely qualified to nod in agreement with the readers protesting the sheer amount of violence and disregard for the subs in BDSM fiction. One of the other common themes running through the thread was how the female submissives invariably go on and on about how their desires were dirty, or that they longed to be normal, or whatever. The readers were saying that most actual subs, and in fact most of the people who enjoy BDSM, aren’t nearly so tortured over the whole thing.

One reader snapped out, as if she were speaking to one of the heroines, “Oh, FFS, get over yourself. It’s what you like. Own it.”

It was like a cold bucket of water to the face. I sent her a note to thank her.

It’s like this: I’m working on a story where I really need to speak to an expert in order to get some details that will make the story work, but I’ve been unusually embarrassed about writing erotic novellas this week. The hero is an enlisted man in the Army. One of my oldest friends has been in the Army for the last twelve years. Easy, no? But I’d been making it hard.

FFS, get over yourself. It’s what you write. Own it.

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